Two young women were talking yesterday evening at the bus station. After the last day of the national graduate’s orientation programme, they were heading back to their places.

One is a Dzongkha honours graduate, the other completed bachelors in English and Political science from India. Besides the expensive kiras they were wearing, there is one thing very much in common- their concern for jobs.

One has decided to work in Qatar, a prospectus she believes is more realistic. The other doesn’t know what to do. She has not passed the preliminary examination to sit for the civil service common examination. She will come back in a week and keep an eye on the vacancies.

With the NGOP over, more than 2,700 graduates will now start hunting for jobs to start making a living. The government will be able to absorb only 434. That is not even a quarter. Some of the graduates are already employed, but that is just a handful. And we have graduates from last year and the year before waiting for openings.

Despite trying hard, the government had not been able to create more openings because of the sheer number of young people entering the job market. This is excluding those dropping schools at various levels and the technical institute graduates. Graduates are told every now and then to look beyond the government for jobs, but the openings are very limited there too. The private sector has their own problem and cannot employ the thousands of people entering the job market on a yearly basis.

The pressure is building. Not long ago, what is called ‘professional graduates’ had no problem getting jobs. The number of young people completing studies in engineering, architecture, IT is increasing and even engineers and architects are left to fend for themselves. The scope may be better for them as the private sector has skilled people to pick from the market, but jobs are not guaranteed for them either.

From now until the next NGOP, we will see many graduates run from pillar to post looking for jobs, doing internships and building their skills to outcompete competitors. A concern of graduates, which they let ministers know recently, is nepotism and favouritism when graduates compete for jobs. Jobseekers accusing of favouring relatives or friend’s relatives has been rampant indicating that such trends could be happening.

What the government could do, if not able to create jobs, is to create a level playing field. There are strict labour rules on recruitment, but not implementing could lead to creating a discouraged and frustrated lot of young people.

Unemployment is a global problem experienced even by developed countries. There is no straight answer to the ever-increasing problem. In the end everybody should work together to look for solutions.

If the private sector is exploiting workers, the pressure will increase on creating more government jobs.